Friday, March 2, 2012

Last Call

Steve M. is dead right about Santorum calling El Rushbo's comments on Sandra Fluke "absurd" today.  Santorum isn't attacking Rush, he's giving Rush a way out of this mess.

The key word here is "absurd," because it's a word Limbaugh proudly uses. For years he's described what he does as "demonstrating absurdity by being absurd" -- in fact, the title of a chapter in his first book was "People, Think for Yourselves, Or Demonstrating Absurdity By Being Absurd." In fact, just today he described his sex-video remark about Sandra Fluke as "illustrating absurdity here by being absurd."

Either Santorum knows all this (and as a card-carrying movement conservative, he presumably would) or Santorum in understands that saying this is an easy way to attack Limbaugh without actually attacking him.

Oh, and Limbaugh's an "entertainer," so it's silly for anyone to care, right? (Funny, back in January, when Santorum said "we've lost, unfortunately, our entertainment industry" to "the left," he seemed to regard entertainment as a lot more relevant to politics.) 

The entertainer dodge is an out Rush has used before.  He'll survive this.  He always does.  Santorum is calling Rush's comments absurd so that anyone attacking him for it is engaging in even more absurd behavior.

Here's the thing, of course.  It's false equivalence to the max, and ABL calls the GOP out on it.

Rush Limbaugh is calling your mothers, sisters, and daughters sluts and prostitutes. “Inappropriate” and “absurd” doesn’t begin to cover it.

And by the way, the “you sluts want us to pay to have sex” narrative is unimaginably stupid. Sandra Fluke testified about her friend who was prescribed birth control for a medical condition — ovarian cysts. Nobody’s asking to be paid to have sex.  Nobody’s asking for government-subsidized condoms. Besides, we women have been paying men to have sex for years. The only purpose of Viagra and Cialis and the like is to allow men to have sex.  Many health insurance plans cover Viagra.  Where’s Rush’s outrage about that?  Shouldn’t all men who take those little blue pills be forced post sex tapes online?


Iran, So Far Away, Part 14

With Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the US on Sunday as the AIPAC conference meets this weekend in Washington DC, President Obama gave a strongly-worded interview to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg on Iran and its nuclear program.

"Without in any way being under an illusion about Iranian intentions, without in any way being naive about the nature of that regime, they are self-interested," Obama said. "It is possible for them to make a strategic calculation that, at minimum, pushes much further to the right whatever potential breakout capacity they may have, and that may turn out to to be the best decision for Israel's security."  

The president also said that Tehran's nuclear program would represent a "profound" national-security threat to the United States even if Israel were not a target of Iran's violent rhetoric, and he dismissed the argument that the United States could successfully contain a nuclear Iran.

"You're talking about the most volatile region in the world," he said. "It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe." He went on to say, "The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world."

The president was most animated when talking about the chaotic arms race he fears would break out if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon, and he seemed most frustrated when talking about what he sees as a deliberate campaign by Republicans to convince American Jews that he is anti-Israel. "Every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept," he told me. "Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they've had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?"

Know your audience.  Expect more tough talk at AIPAC's conference this weekend...but as Churchill once said, "'Jaw, jaw' is better than 'war, war.'"  The Israel hawks will ignore the tough talk because iran still exists.  The Puritopians will point to the interview as proof that the President will lead us into a war that even Dubya (now their hero) wouldn't tolerate.

Realists will figure out what Churchill knew, and that President Obama not only knows it, but is rope-a-doping both sides.

The Kroog Versus Morning In America

Paul Krugman shrilly points out the reason why St. Ronaldus got his Morning in America:  his government spent his friggin' way out of the recession.

Let’s look at real government consumption and investment spending — basically purchases of goods and services — from all levels of government during three recoveries: the current expansion, the Bush Boom (such as it was), and Morning in America. Here’s what you get:

Which one is different?

Instead under the GOP Austerians at the state level, we're not only not using state and local governments as engines of recovery like Reagan and Bush 43 did, we're actually cutting government investment and spending.  Bush 43 grew government.  Reagan completely grew government.  Obama, not so much.

But we're told that the reason why the recovery hasn't been fast enough is that we're spending too much and that only the private sector can save us.  We've been exactly doing that and it's not working.  Surprise!

Oh, and let's not pretend the current crop of GOP contenders are any better, either.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget recently published an overview of the budget proposals of the four “major” Republican candidates and, in a separate report, examined the latest Obama budget. I am not, by the way, a big fan of the committee’s general role in our policy discourse; I think it has been pushing premature deficit reduction and diverting attention from the more immediately urgent task of reducing unemployment. But the group is honest and technically competent, so its evaluation provides a very useful reference point. 

And here’s what it tells us: According to an “intermediate debt scenario,” the budget proposals of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney would all lead to much higher debt a decade from now than the proposals in the 2013 Obama budget. Ron Paul would do better, roughly matching Mr. Obama. But if you look at the details, it turns out that Mr. Paul is assuming trillions of dollars in unspecified and implausible spending cuts. So, in the end, he’s really a spendthrift, too. 

Is there any way to make the G.O.P. proposals seem fiscally responsible? Well, no — not unless you believe in magic. Sure enough, voodoo economics is making a big comeback, with Mr. Romney, in particular, asserting that his tax cuts wouldn’t actually explode the deficit because they would promote faster economic growth and this would raise revenue. 

And you might find this plausible if you spent the past two decades sleeping in a cave somewhere. If you didn’t, you probably remember that the same people now telling us what great things tax cuts would do for growth assured us that Bill Clinton’s tax increase in 1993 would lead to economic disaster, while George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 would create vast prosperity. Somehow, neither of those predictions worked out. 

And yet it's axiomatic in Washington that tax cuts increase tax revenue through explosive growth, when what creates growth is investment in the economy.  Amazing.

Celebrity Roundup

Hugh Hefner's son Marson is facing up to eighteen months in jail.  He has officially been charged, and we will soon learn more about what happened the day police were called.  Hugh hasn't released a statement since this broke, but one has to wonder how he is going to handle this.

TMZ also shows a portrait of Whitney Houston, made of capsules.  It's actually pretty darned neat, but the obvious jab at the assumption she took too many pills and died as a result is a bit rude.  Still, edgy art comes at a price.  Click here to see the picture.

George Clooney has always been a classy dude.  When pressed yet again about gay rumors, he says quite eloquently that he accepts the rumors, but refuses to act like being gay is a bad thing.  In other words, it isn't worth getting in an uproar over, but of course he isn't.  All I'm saying is, if he can see Stacy Keibler and somehow not pounce on that... he's gay.  My hunch is George is just a gentleman all around.

Victory, Damn Close To Epic Fail

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has defeated a Republican effort to roll back President Barack Obama's policy on contraception insurance coverage.

The measure sponsored by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, was defeated 51-48. The measure, an amendment to a pending transportation bill, would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of portions of the president's health care law they found morally objectionable. That would have included the law's requirement that insurers cover the costs of birth control.

Republicans said it was a matter of freedom of religion; Democrats said it was an assault on women's rights and could be used to cancel virtually any part of the law.

Roy Blunt is a jackass who doesn't care about the people. Well, that's not true, he doesn't give a damn about women. If you're a male, you're all aces in his book.  He came thisclose to leading a charge against womenfolk, and winning.  Though he promises it isn't over, and won't be until he gets his way.

Folks, 51-48 is too close. We were too close to having our medical rights stomped on.

Some people will say there is a good point to be had. I respectfully say screw you. Here's how you know they don't really give a damn about "morally objectionable" and only care about forcing women into a corner:

  • There is no movement to affect any other industries.  They are not asking for the law to protect hotel owners to deny service to an unwed couple or people they may find morally objectionable.  You know, that (gasp) premarital sex happens somewhere.  Their family values are not offended enough to delve into vasectomy or those darned condom companies.
  • There has been no mention of increased aid for unwanted children, the obvious outcome.  There is no discussion of child support, enforcement, or aid for the women who will be expected to stop their world to raise children that they did not want to have.  Boys will be boys, right?  
  • There were many complaints about how vague and open to interpretation the language was.  It would seem any time something became too expensive, one could claim a moral offense and it wasn't their problem anymore.  Hey, if your disease looks like it is related to being overweight, the Bible says you are to be moderate in your lifestyle.  So it looks like you aren't covered, piggy piggy.  It could happen, and if this step is taken it is inevitable.
  • Their fever to sound like Baptist preachers stops right when it becomes an inconvenience to them. They aren't going to outlaw smoking, gambling, drinking or strip clubs.  But  if you are upset about paying for insurance and paying full price for some medicine because it is morally offensive to someone else?  Serves you right, sinner!  
  • There is no understanding from Republicans that employers and insurance do not have any right to judge the services people use.  Women should not have to answer for their legal choices.
  • There is no acknowledgement that married women use birth control, and younger teenage girls use the Pill for more than just avoiding pregnancy.  This has become a controlling sex agenda, and they aren't even trying to pretend otherwise. 
  • There was no acknowledgement of the Constitution.  There was no acknowledgement of women's health issues.  There was no reply that said "I hear you, here is the logic behind our ideas."  There was just "I think it's wrong and you are under my control.  STFU and keep an aspirin between your knees."
Bullshit times infinity.  I beg everyone to get involved to put an end to this.  It's criminal, and it's coming from our own leaders, people who stopped caring about those pesky checks and balances and have decided they know what is best for the people.  Some of the guys in charge have lost their damn minds, I can't think of another way to say it.

Blunt is nuttier than a squirrel turd.  I look forward to watching Elizabeth Warren use this to the maximum, to draw the line for women.  The tides will turn, and when they do there will be hell to pay.  The sheer stupidity in crying for religious protection while using their religion to make personal decisions for free citizens is appalling.  

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Oh, and speaking of the broken wasteland Breitbart left behind, there's now this:

On his program Thursday, Fox News’ Sean Hannity spoke with Steve Bannon (producer of The Undefeated, among various other films) about a series of tapes Andrew Breitbart claimed to have about Barack Obama. Breitbart mentioned the tapes during his recent CPAC speech, sharing that “[w]e are going to vet [Barack Obama] from his college days to show you why racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008.”

Bannon confirmed that there exists a series of tapes taken during Obama’s time at Harvard, which will be publicly released “in a week or two.” Breitbart has been “very systematic about going through this thing,” Bannon added.

This "Obama is the other" circus, including the endless Birther controversy, was gearing up for months of brutal, racist attacks on the President.  It's the only way the GOP can win in 2012 and they know it.  They don't want to talk about the issues.  They want to talk about how America has fallen into such an awful state that one of them is now running for re-election.  That's why we're re-fighting affirmative action, birth control, voter suppression and whether or not government should exist:  because if America can elect one of them President, then the society that allowed such a sin clearly must be dismantled to the point it can never happen again.

Those who allowed Barack Obama to become President must be punished.  All those people.  That's why the GOP is no longer talking about jobs and the economy.

"What do we really know about that one?" is the new, old dog whistle.  Breitbart and his ilk thrived in that fecal matter.  His legacy is the 2012 election season.  Because after all, it's not like anyone ever really looked into President Obama's past, right?

Andrew Breitbart Trolls America One Last Time

The rehabilitation of Andrew Breitbart is proceeding at the speed of 'net.

On a day where President Obama's late mother is said to be copulating with a dog in an awful joke spread by a Montana federal judge, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona is holding press conferences on national TV to announce the President's birth certificate is a "forgery" we have Andrew Breitbart's death, as covered earlier by ABL.

Here's my problem.  Andrew Breitbart did truly awful things.  But his rehabilitation into a great guy begins with crap like this from David Frum:

Because President Obama was black, and because Breitbart believed in using every and any weapon at hand, Breitbart’s politics did inevitably become racially coded. Breitbart’s memory will always be linked to his defamation of Shirley Sherrod and his attempt to make a national scandal out of back payments to black farmers: the story he always called “Pigford” with self-conscious resonance.
Yet it is wrong to see Breitbart as racially motivated. Had Breitbart decided he hated a politician whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, Breitbart would have been just as delighted to attack that politicians with a different set of codes. The attack was everything, the details nothing.

No.  See, no.  This is equivocating, self-serving, puerile bullshit of the highest magnitude right here, and it's the major reason why the ruined wasteland of American journalism that Andrew Breitbart helped to create was allowed to happen because the people who clearly knew better gave him a pass anyway.

Frum is basically saying that Breitbart did racist things, used racist phrases, and played on racial fears and stereotypes, but he wasn't a racist because he was either playing a character or that he hated everyone equally.

To which I again cry "bullshit".   That is such astonishing white privilege as to be shocking, and it's all the more terrible because Frum clearly admits in his obituary piece that Andrew Breitbart did really unforgivable things, and still calls him a "loyal friend".   He wasn't a bad person, he just was playing the game that he helped to create, and it's really heart-rending that the discourse is in tatters right now, but hey, it's okay, he wasn't a racist, he hated women and Muslims and liberals and academics and environmentalists too, so it's all good.

Sorry Frum.  You don't get to dispense this particular plenary indulgence.  You don't get to posthumously absolve him of his sins.    You don't get to play the "loveable bastard" card.  He was a darkness on the American political media scene, and his death left behind a country where you think it's okay to treat people like animals, objects, or worse just because you feel you can just explain away the behavior as acceptable due to "you can't prove intent".

And so you give him a pass, and CNN gives him a pass, and Dave Weigel gives him a pass, and Arianna Huffington gives him a pass, and the GOP clown car crew gives him a pass, and before the election we're going to have at least one Republican running for office demand that the President be impeached for the "cover-up over Breitbart's death" and the emails will go flying around and everyone will have a good laugh at the ni-CLANG President and Frum will continue to lament why his party has become full of racist assholes and he'll shrug and say "The attack was everything, the details nothing" and racism and bigotry and hatred will become that much more acceptable in society because Oh Well What Can You Do, He Said As He Shook His Head.

Frum of course will never figure out that the only thing worse than a bigoted, racist jackass of a liar is the person who excuses that kind of behavior and enables it to happen.  And in that very real way, David Frum is a much worse problem with our ass-over-teakettle media than Andrew Breitbart ever, ever will have been.

To be fair to David Frum, he isn't the only one.  Breitbart and his ilk were getting passes from a number of sources.  Even more passes are being issued in the wake of Breitbart's death.  And so it goes as we spiral into hell with afterburners alight, we are reminded here that in the end, as it always is, the racist bigoted asshole is  the true victim for having to be forced to live in an America with a black President he never wanted thrust upon him.

For tomorrow, the fresh hell of the news cycle begins anew, and Breitbart's pervasive taint will be all over it and the many, many news cycles to come after.  The dead racist guy gets the last laugh in this America.  His replacement will invariably be worse.

That's how the game is played.  Hate the game, not the players?  I choose to call out the people who make the game possible.  That means you, David Frum.  You're a big, big reason why we're in this hellhole with your fellow travelers finding all kids of ways to justify Breitbart and those like him.  You have to in perpetuity, lest you see the abyss staring back at you with your own face.


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